Blame of gas drilling for water problems often inaccurate

This is not the first time it has happened and we are betting it won’t be the last.

There is methane contamination fouling up the water in a northeastern Pennsylvania well.

Gas drilling is blamed.

The celebrities descend on the Susquehanna County village of Franklin Forks.

Then, following a 16-month investigation, the state Department of Environmental Protection says evidence gathered shows WPX Energy is not responsible for the high levels of methane and other contaminants in private water wells at three homes.

DEP says the methane is naturally occurring shallow gas and not production gas from the Marcellus Shale formation. Samples taken from the wells and nearby Salt Springs State Park exhibited similar water chemistry, including high levels of barium, iron, chlorides and other contaminants.

The well owners – no surprise – don’t trust DEP’s findings. We wonder if they would feel that way if the gas company had been found liable.

It’s fine that people in this region and elsewhere are holding gas drillers’ feet to the fire. That serves to make the industry vigilant about adherring to environmental standards.

But the knee-jerk reaction to blame any water problem on the gas industry gets tiresome.

The gas companies need to be held to a high environmental standard. We have a state agency charged with doing that.

When the agency does its work and comes up with legitimate findings, those findings should be respected.